By Ray Ugochukwu
As the 2023 presidential election is less than one year away, political storms have begun to gather. Political parties are strategizing for the race to the Aso Villa to determine who takes over from President Muhammadu Buhari. The two main parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are currently at their wits end trying to ward off internal crisis that could hamper their expectations come 2023. For the APC, it is to consolidate on its stronghold to power while the PDP plots a return.
Some outwitted politicians of the two frontline parties are currently recruiting others, mainly from the elitist class, to form what they call a Third Force. A multilateral political party that will upstage both the APC and PDP! One of such is the one being championed by Prof. Pat Utomi, key civil society and labour leaders. This Mega Party Alliance also has as its initiator, Prof. Attahiru Jega, former Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) boss. Sources have it that the identity of the new group hoping to upstage the apple cart, will be known this week, all things being equal. For now, the group’s identity is the Fusion Council.
Addressing stakeholders in a virtual parley of the National Consultative Front (NCFront) last Sunday, its spokesperson, Ms Bilikis Bello, said the unveiling of the party will be followed immediately by the collection of nomination and expression of interest forms by intending executives at all levels and aspiring candidates. This, she said, would be ahead of combined congresses, primaries and national convention scheduled to hold between the second week of April and end of May, in line with INEC guidelines.
People like Dr. Usman Bugaje, former Chairman, nPDP; former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Ghali Na’abba, former speaker of the House of Representatives; Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), a prominent lawyer; Femi Falana, human rights lawyer; Oby Ezekwesili, among others, are touted as members of the group.
The organizers say they have in their fold former and sitting governors, ministers and lawmakers disenchanted with the country’s current state. However, the leadership of the Third Force Mega Party said it would screen defectors and new entrants to ensure compliance with its political charter.
Nigerians, who are apparently disappointed with the two major political parties’ showings and desirous of a change, are full of great expectations from Prof. Utomi-led group. They are however, not so optimistic in their expectations come 2023. To them, this is not the first time such hope had been raised and later dashed! They recall former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Third Force initiative prior to the 2019 presidential election that got dead on arrival.
Be that as it may, unknown to many, what looks like a major political tsunami for 2023 presidential election, appears to be brewing up north. From there, a twenty-year old little known political party, the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), may be springing some surprises. Many political bigwigs from that zone are said to be dumping their original parties for the new-found land, NNPP.
The NNPP was established some twenty years ago through the visionary leadership of Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, a frontline maritime business guru, who is also the Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), based in Apapa, Lagos. Since the registration of the party, Dr. Aniebonam has been bearing the brunt of its funding alone in all ramifications. It has always been his refrain that the NNPP is “God’s own party” that will rescue Nigerians from the clutches of maladministration.
To the NAGAFF founder, the NNPP is the political wing of the association, through which in due course, the group’s dreams of instituting international best practices for business in the country, would be realised. “Something keeps telling me that NNPP will be the party that will set Nigerians free. How this will happen, I do not know. But something in me keeps telling me this”, Aniebonam has always said.
The main attraction for NNPP is said to be the already perfected defection of the former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, to the party from where he will fulfill his presidential ambition in 2023. Already, Seabreeze News learnt that presently, two serving governors from that part of the country are in the kitty of the party. A former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Authority (NMA), now Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Buba Galadima, is said to be the arrow-head in the ‘fishing of notable men’ for the party.
Buba Galadima, ready to take on any opponent
With a basket of fruits as its logo, and with photos of Kwankwaso carrying a basket of fruits, NNPP rallies across states in the north are usually littered with fruits of assorted kinds. Since the logo depicts agriculture, the former governor of Kano is said to be pushing his Kwakwasiyya Movement slogan in this direction – Food For All Come 2023!
Reliable sources told Seabreeze News that dissatisfied with the operational modes of both the APC and PDP, Senator Kwankwaso has been shopping for a better people-oriented platform to fulfill his ambition. It was gathered that the search had taken him to different political parties where he met brickwalls in terms of philosophy and negotiation terms including monetary exchanges. However, on getting to the NNPP, it was gathered that not only did he see a platform which objective, as couched in its logo, captures his aspiration for the country, he also saw a party not meant for sale like the previous ones he approached. It was gathered that the Kwakwasiyya Movement leader was told, “NNPP belongs to God. It is not for sale. It is a platform to deliver Nigerians from the clutches of poverty occasioned by many years of misrule”.
It was reliably learnt that at a National Working Committee (NWC) meeting held in Abuja recently, the founder of the party, Dr. Aniebonam, voluntarily relinquished his position as the party’s National Chairman. He instead preferred to assume the position of the Spiritual Leader and Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party. This news platform also learnt that he told the NWC that NNPP is a spiritual movement in Nigeria; hence he assumed the title of Spiritual Leader of the party. Thereafter, AVM John Chris Ifeimeje (Retd) was picked as the National Chairman to replace him.
Seabreeze News recalls that before now, pharmacist, politician and business guru, the founder and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Neimeth Pharmaceutical, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, was touted as the likely presidential flag bearer of the party. He was also the former president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN). Some political pundits are saying that Ohuabunwa may settle for the Running Mate position to the topflight Kano State born politician, Kwankwaso.
Party faithfuls, who have welcomed this speculation, say the duo would make a wonderful pair for Nigeria. They posit that while Ohuabunwa would bring his industrial and entrepreneurial skills to bear on the country, his principal, Kwankwaso, would bring his political and educational savvy on the table to move the country forward.
Some party members, who spoke to our reporter on conditions of anonymity, said apart from the Kwankwasiyya Movement leader being a popular and articulate politician, he is highly detribalized as a true leader. They cited an example with the politician’s closest and most reliable aides as being of either Igbo or Yoruba extraction, which they said was a rare attribute of politicians of his like.
At the swearing-in ceremony of the NAGAFF new executive council members at the Rockview Hotel, Apapa, Lagos, on November 1, 2021, Dr. Aniebonam had predicted that “my spirit keeps telling me that NNPP, the political wing of NAGAFF, will give Nigerians good leadership some day. How and when, I don’t know. But watch out!”
When our reporter reached out to the Umuawulu, Anambra State born, NNPP founder for his comments, he merely said his vision of twenty years ago was coming to fruition. He said Nigerians should watch out and see what the party would unfold in the days to come.
“Well, I don’t have much to tell you now except to say that a twenty years vision is coming to manifestation. You know, Nigerians are fed up with APC and PDP. Watch out for NNPP! We are going to provide Nigerians the next leadership. Just watch out what will be unfolding in the next few weeks. NNPP is the party to beat, I can assure you”, he said.
He confirmed that a serious alliance and re-alliance was being worked out between the party and Kwankwaso, the former governor of Kano State but would not want to go into full details. Aniebonam, who also confirmed having Buba Galadima in the party’s fold, said many other state governors were already waiting on the wings to defect to the NNPP but did not mention names.
Dr. Aniebonam disclosed that a massive recruitment of members was seriously going on both online for the elites and physical for non-elites and urged Nigerians to join forces with the Movement to rescue the nation from the stranglehold of years bad governance.
Not too long ago, the NNPP absorbed the newly launched The National Movement of Nigeria (TNM) in an alliance ahead of the 2023 election. The move was said to be in compliance with the Electoral Act, which stipulates that all mergers must be consummated nine months ahead of the general elections. The alliance witnessed the emergence of new executive members who would pilot the affairs of the party towards the next election in accordance with the dictates of the new political order by the Electoral Act as amended.
The new executives emerged from a marathon meeting that lasted over five hours, on Monday, March 7, 2022, at the Maitama Secretariat of the Party. The new National Chairman of the party, AVM John Chris Ifeimeje (Retd), said the party would, in compliance with the electoral Act, hold its national convention on March 30, 2022.
Presently, the National Chairman, AVM Ifeimeje (Retd), the Secretary General, Mr. Oladipo Olayoku, a veteran journalist, and the Publicity Secretary, Major Gilbert Agbo, are said to be working tirelessly in conjunction with other top party members, to make the national convention a reality.